In a shift unforeseen by many political spectators, Pennsylvania's status as a swing state may be over.
Based on past elections and early projections, Pennsylvania was marked as a toss-up state for 2012, joining Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin on the list of critical battleground states. While Pennsylvania has voted for Democrats in the last five presidential elections, Mitt Romney's campaign targeted the state as one where his message could resonate with independent voters as well as blue-collar workers.
However, in recent weeks, the once purple state has looked increasingly blue as polls shift in favor of President Obama.
"While PA is by no means settled, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that it will be pivotal,” political science professor Marc Meredith told the Daily Pennsylvanian. “It is unlikely to be the swing state that ultimately decides the election.”
Indeed, with just over five weeks left before the election, a close race in Pennsylvania is looking like a distant possibility. According to HuffPost Pollster's latest averages, the state is now leaning strongly towards Obama, with the president leading Romney 51 percent to 41 percent as of Wednesday evening. While Romney narrowed the president's edge to about six points earlier this summer, the gap has only widened in recent weeks.
Republican-backing groups have recognized the shift. Earlier this month, conservative super PACs American Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity pulled funding from Pennsylvania, instead redoubling their efforts in states where Romney has a better chance of winning.
As the Financial Times points out, Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as running mate has perhaps done no favors for him in a state with a high population of Medicare recipients. Ryan has proposed a massive overhaul for the health care system, phasing out the current program in favor of vouchers for those currently under age 55.
However, if Romney's campaign feels that the state is a lost cause, they haven't fully acknowledged it. The Republican candidate has fundraisers scheduled in Philadelphia on Friday. He'll also hold a rally in Valley Forge that day.